I’m proud of Gen Zs finding their voice in fight for change

From baddies to activists, what a time to be alive!

In Summary

• Two months ago, I bemoaned the lack of youthful participation in governance

• Yet here we are now, in the middle of a political awakening that fills me with pride

Oh, what a time to be alive!

I am honestly a proud Gen Z. I am extremely proud of my generation, without forgetting millennials. 

I never thought a time would come when I would witness young people my age taking matters into their own hands and working in harmony for a greater cause and for change. 

For a generation that was deemed to have little to no interest in politics, for the last one week, our very own Kenya, Africa at large and the entire world were shaken by our patriotic spirit. 

Exactly two months ago, in this same space, I expressed my deepest concern on the lack of youthful participation in the world of governance, and here we are. 

I was really concerned about the lack of a youthful participatory culture in matters of governance. 

Today, we are making what I would call a sort of playbook of new-age patriotism. 

My friends from neighbouring countries are astounded and never miss a chance to talk about how Gen Zs and Millennials in Kenya have set a standard to be emulated in every conversation I have with them online. 

I had the opportune chance to be part of the very first two national protests held in the country, all organised online by the Gen Z community seeking change.

The wake-up call? Kenya’s proposed Finance Bill 2024. 

The chants, the songs, the dances, the oneness, wow! It was really beautiful to witness such a historical moment. 

At no point did I see a peaceful protester throw a stone, destroy property or even unleash a weapon or something of the sort. 

Peaceful protests through and through. 

This was, however, not the case with our Kenyan men and women in uniform. 

The police arrested people, threw stones, hit peaceful protesters with clubs and even fired teargas canisters at protesters. 

Yes, I was a part of it and I witnessed every moment. 

In fact, I witnessed an incident where a young man was caught pickpocketing a phone. The device was returned to its rightful owner, whereas those who caught him broke some tree branches, gave the young man a few beatings and called an ambulance to assist him.

Afterwards, they escorted the young man to his matatu terminal so he could board a matatu and head home. 

At first, I wasn’t sure of what he had taken place, but after the whole commotion along the street, I decided to inquire on why they descended on him.

“Huyo alikuja kuiba. Wakati sisi tunafukuza wezi, yeye amekuja kuexercise the same thing tunakataa! Aende home,” one protester said. 

For the baby boomers and Gen X, I have never seen them express how proud and supportive they are towards the actions of millennials and Gen Zs. 

To the international community, every single moment is captured and put out there through the media. 

In our very own country, the media, both mainstream and online, has been devoted to documenting every single bit of the protests so that every single person can witness what is happening. 

The protests are purely organised online and without a political party or a select team of individuals self-appointed to represent the youthful voices. 

In fact, the youth took to social media to say they do not have anyone representing them in the form of chosen leaders or political parties. 

The young people have even turned their social handles to a place of activism, where they aim to voice their thoughts and opinions, advocate for change and share relevant information as they seek to educate each other.

To prove those who said that they do not know anything or even haven’t read the proposed bill, Gen Zs went an extra mile to even translate the document to different languages and even more notably, sign language.

You would think that is it. No, they have even developed a Chat GPT version for those who wish to understand what the bill proposes while using Generative AI. 

What a time to be alive!

That’s why when I term the recent Gen Z insurgence a phenomenal thing, and one that is for the history books, you will agree with me that it is history in the making. 

It is, however, sad that some lives were lost in the midst of advocating for a noble cause, and it was also very sad and disappointing to witness double talk by those in power to an extent where those who outright shared their views online were now being abducted.

The Gen Z movement has even put the religious community, elected leaders, influencers and notable personalities, up to even their own parents and guardians, on the spot on where they stand. 

Whether what Gen Zs and millennials have resorted to doing is wrong or right is up to you to decide. 

As for me, I am happy for the actions being taken to bring change, and I am even happier that as young people, we have turned into activists who are actively participating in this space and advocating for change for a brighter future. 

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